The Evangelical Voyeur

A pastor filmed a man showering. All hell broke loose.

In early January 2017, a pastor at The Village Church in Fort Worth, Texas was showering at the home of another pastor from the church. He noticed an iPhone peeking out from a folded towel. Was he being filmed? Opening its video library, he saw there were four more videos of him showering on previous occasions. Whhaaaat? A later police report reads: “When confronted about the video Anthony advised he struggled with same sex attraction.”

Dr. Anthony Moore, 37-year-old, was until that point a rising star in Evangelical Christianity. Months before, he’d spoken to the ultra-conservative Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on the need for women to expose abusers. He hadn’t said anything about men—but the showering pastor knew what to do. He told the church, and Moore was fired, publicly called “unfit for ministry,” owing to “grievous, immoral actions against adult member.”

He was given some hope, though, for redeeming himself—after “deep healing and strong counseling for an extended period of time.” This would be biblical counseling, i.e. the idea that another application of correct Evangelical theology would fix his ‘sin’ problem.

Anthony Moore

The promise of reparative therapy, ironically, saved his career. He could be fixed!— somehow—so he was allowed to leave, without any explicit discussion of what had happened. He wasn’t to the point of being identified as gay, and so another job in the Evangelical world might even be possible.

Indeed, on January 14th, he’d called a former teacher at seminary, Thomas White, now at Cedarville University, a conservative Christian university in Ohio. White recalls: “He told me he had wronged another person in a morally serious way using video and technology, but his transgression was not physical in nature.”

They meet the next month. White continues: “We cried a lot. Dealing with the devastation of sinful actions is difficult, and I could tell it had taken its toll. Yet, he respectfully submitted to the request of his local church and stayed in place while working construction to provide for his family.”

Angling for a job at Cedarville, Moore got Sam Allberry, the new Evangelical point man on anti-gay messaging, with a slightly more compassionate line than before, to vouch for him. (Allberry is now defensive, telling Julie Roys he’d understood Moore to have “developed an unhealthy friendship and that he was now deeply repentant.”)

Some elders at the Village Church helped out too, with the church itself writing a “letter of recommendation,” which, as Roys reports, “neither have been willing to release . . .” Moore arrived at Cedarville in early July, on a “five-year plan of restoration” that would have him initially doing clerical work. White’s email to trustees laid out the situation:

His failure in general resulted from being sexually abused from the age of 4 to 8/9 which caused him to struggle with same-sex attraction. While he has a strong marriage and three kids, the scars of his past were never dealt with. During a dark moment of questions, temptation, and curiosity, he acted in perversion technologically with another person. There was never any physical contact, but these actions were wrong and caused him to step down.

In an address to the faculty, White touched on some additional themes:

Every year that I have been at Cedarville, we have lost at least one employee due to a moral failure. As you heard me preach last year from the end of the book of James, our desire is to rescue those who may be starting to wander. Listen, we cannot be a self-righteous community of pharisaical deceivers. God will not bless such hypocrisy.

I’m fascinated by the weird language. The omissions. The steps and misteps. I’m struck by all the possible angles. If Moore was being viewed as a candidate for “biblical counseling,” which seems to be a new form of reparative therapy done by clerics, there might be conflicts associated with that. If he isn’t “cured,” he indicates the therapy doesn’t work.

He becomes a public test case for its effectiveness.

If he is “cured” of homosexuality, however, he might become a valuable spokesman for “biblical counseling” as a treatment. That could be enormously valuable to Evangelicalism. There was a gamble on him, perhaps.

How does Moore view his sexuality? Even that wouldn’t be a question we’d expect any of the players to ask. The two choices this culture is offering him are: straight . . . or evil.

I’m struck by his accomplishments. He’s making a theological subculture that’s warred for two centuries on sex and sexuality discuss it. He’s prompting them to discuss homosexuality in someone they otherwise know and like. That itself is fueling angst. Evangelicals often say that gays are demonically possessed. Yet here, they can’t tell who “might be,” or not.

I like that he’s prompting Evangelical men to think of themselves as sexual objects who can be misused. That’s a new thought, perhaps. They aren’t even accustomed to thinking it’s a problem to sexually harass, misuse, intimate or oppress women.

I’m struck by the gay panic. The pastor now famous for taking a shower tells the press he’d been “the victim of Moore’s verbal, non-contact sexual, spiritual and emotional abuse.” He might surmise the purpose of the videos was for use as an aid to masturbation.

Is it possible to find ambiguity in the showering pastor’s behavior? Why is he showering so often as Moore’s house? If Moore had been filming him for months, surely the showering pastor had caught some suggestion that he was sexually desirable to his friend. I mean, he had to know.

Moore seems to move in largely white communities. Is race a factor?

Moore seems to have done well at his new job, and on October 4, 2018, was given the status of faculty. Eight days later, the showering pastor filed his report with the police.

He claims he realized he should, “in case there were other victims,” but he hadn’t gone to the police for nearly two years. He was moving to try and block Moore’s career advancement.

I’m not able to find how the matter ended up exploding into the press about two weeks ago. An apparent ‘whistleblower’ writes an ‘open letter’ to White, reminding him he’d told him Moore would be a problem.

My primary concern was the safety of the students of Cedarville University and I communicated this to you very diligently. I believe I also conveyed to you then that the hiring of Anthony Moore would one day lead to a campus uproar and your ultimate downfall. Sadly, my dire prognostications have come true.

The problem is framed not as an invasion of privacy, not as sexual harassment, etc., but as a theological problem of vast magnitude, extending far beyond the borders of this particular case, and likely requiring drastic action by the people of God! The same guy continues:

There is a crisis transpiring throughout American Evangelicalism and the Southern Baptist Convention and we must all repent of our apathy and complacency and fully embrace the glorious Gospel of Grace found in Jesus Christ.

The comments lurch into anti-gay hand-wringing. Moore, whose new job included being a basketball coach, would see young Christian men naked in the locker room!

Amid calls for White’s outster, he’s now put on leave. He posts a long explanation, shifting blame to Moore for deceiving him. There was two shower videos, rather than five. But critics pick apart White’s “restoration plan,” which seems to have progressed too rapidly. Moore taught classes before he was supposed to!

Meanwhile, The Village Church is in the news with other sexual stories. In 2018, an associate children’s pastor was fired for drunkenness, later revealed to have been accused of molesting a child in 2012.

Then people still talk about their missionary who’d been found, in 2015, to be looking at child pornography. His wife moved to get an annulment, and the church punished her for it.

Another day in Evangelical America.

religion. sex. facts.

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